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Al Kills Analog

By: Al Skierkiewicz
New: 06-16-2009 07:10 AM
Updated: 06-16-2009 07:10 AM
Views: 2044 times


Al Kills Analog

This is a picture of me killing the analog transmitter on Sears Tower for the last time, June 12, 2009, 05:58:40. WTTW Channel 11 is off the air.

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06-16-2009 03:54 PM

Andrew Schreiber


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For some reason I always feel depressed when old technology is removed (disabled) for new technology.



06-16-2009 04:08 PM

Dave Flowerday


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Schreiber View Post


For some reason I always feel depressed when old technology is removed (disabled) for new technology.
In this case, it wasn't removed or disabled. It was brought back on the air 6 hours later on RF channel 12 for WBBM-DT.



06-16-2009 05:09 PM

MrForbes


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Students take note: analog meters, thumbwheels, illuminated pushbutton switches, mechanical time counters, seven segment LEDs....all kinds of neat 70s stuff! too bad there aren't any nixies

We lost a station with the transition. One of the Tucson stations had been transmitting digital on Channel 35 and analog on Channel 9, and decided to turn off 35 and go digital on 9...which is VHF...and we have a UHF antenna, and they're far away. Oh well.



06-16-2009 06:00 PM

IKE


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Video killed the Radio Star, and now Al kills Analog. What is this world coming to? When will the murders stop....

Congrats Al. That is really cool. Was it really just pressing a button?



06-16-2009 07:13 PM

gburlison


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
We lost a station with the transition. One of the Tucson stations had been transmitting digital on Channel 35 and analog on Channel 9, and decided to turn off 35 and go digital on 9...which is VHF...and we have a UHF antenna, and they're far away. Oh well.
Well you are in the coverage area for channel 9, you just need to get a VHF antenna. But you probably new that already.



06-16-2009 08:46 PM

Al Skierkiewicz


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Yes, it was just pressing the button for the last and final time. Button kills the 50 volt, 800 amp power supply. The next time that transmitter comes back on, it will have been converted to a digital linear amp capable of 18kW but only licensed for 1800 Watts. The transmitter is not that old, early 90's, all solid state power Motorola FET design made in Missasauga, Ontario.



06-16-2009 10:32 PM

KelliV


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Skierkiewicz View Post
Yes, it was just pressing the button for the last and final time.
It's awesome that you got to do this. The switch has been the biggest buzz in our TV department since the finale of Lost. You're lucky to be a part of the end of an era. Yet another reason that you are the most influential mentor I have ever had.

-Kelli



06-16-2009 10:56 PM

DonRotolo


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Great photo Al.

Sad in some ways, but exciting in others. NTSC (the old analog standard for color video - stands for "Never Twice the Same Color") has served us well, but it's a bandwidth hog and has some technical shortcomings. ATSC (the new digital standard) is as slick as it could be (considering it was designed by committee, in the 1990's).

My only despair is that I can no longer demodulate video with a diode. Never needed to, though

I will now re-purpose all my analog TVs to Amateur Fast-Scan TV, which usesd NTSC and can be found around UHF Channel 60 or so. Boy, those ham radio guys are into everything, eh?



06-17-2009 05:18 AM

JohnBoucher


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Transitions are always a little sad, but the changeover seems to have gone better than expected.

Good Job, AL.

One of my "Back when I was your age" stories is that they would turn TV off at night so you had to go to bed. It's was not this 24/7 they have now.



06-17-2009 06:41 AM

Al Skierkiewicz


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Kelli,
I don't really consider myself lucky but I do feel somewhat privileged. I was there when stations were still broadcasting some of their programming in B/W. I was part of the development of stereo for TV in the US and now I have lived to see analog die and digital start.
John,
I started with a PBS station in Peoria, IL that broadcast for 1.5 hours in the morning (Sesame Street and Electric Company) and then turned back on at 4-10PM. This station was off for at least 6 hours each week night and 7-8 hours on the weekend nights when I started. As cable started being the delivery of choice, broadcasters had to maintain 24 hr ops to keep their channel ID on the cable systems. Otherwise, cable operators would put in other programming (infomercials) when we went off the air or would move us to a different channel than our over the air assignment.

What a lot of people don't realize, is that digital TV is possible/affordable because computer memory is cheap and fast so that MPEG files can be processed and decoded in your receiver.



06-17-2009 09:21 AM

ebarker


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Oh I don't know about all that newfangled FET 70's stuff. Next thing you know they are gonna want us to do digital and robots or something........

I like what I grew up with, the RCA BTA-5 series for AM broadcast service.

Here is a variant for maritime service - back in the day when we had to 'peak the grids' and 'dip the plates'

RCA Transmitter



06-17-2009 12:19 PM

GaryVoshol


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I used to tell my kids that some of the old shows were in B/W because colors hadn't been invented yet ...

Although I do remember when a cousin got a color TV - it was great to go over and see some football, expecially when one of those red teams like Nebraska or Oklahoma was playing.

I also remember going with my dad to the hardware store to check whether tubes were burned out or not.



06-17-2009 02:09 PM

ebarker


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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryVoshol View Post
I used to tell my kids that some of the old shows were in B/W because colors hadn't been invented yet ...
In the summer of 1968 we got a color TV.

I immediately watched Curt Gowdy call a baseball game on NBC Sports "Game of the Week". The grass was green, really really green.

I still remember that game. I think it was the Yankees playing someone, don't remember who.



06-17-2009 02:16 PM

NorviewsVeteran


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

I'm probably going to make somebody feel old right now...

before my mom got a color tv, she didn't understand the big deal with the Wizard of Oz...



06-17-2009 02:39 PM

MrForbes


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Our first color TV was the Heathkit we (kids) built in 1973. Still have it...it still works....



06-17-2009 02:46 PM

JohnBoucher


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Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
Our first color TV was the Heathkit we (kids) built in 1973. Still have it...it still works....
Ahh Heathkit. What a shame they are gone



06-17-2009 03:18 PM

dtengineering


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

If you want to watch some analog TV, come up to Canada... we're not switching over until August 2011.

But in the big picture I wonder what format "television" will take in the next five to ten years. The improvement in streaming video over the internet that I have seen over the past five years leaves me wondering how cable, satellite and broadcast TV companies are going to react to the availability of on-demand streaming HDTV... which, if not quite a reality, soon will be.

It will be exciting to see all those TV channels re-purposed to wireless communications, though. It is amazing how much digital data can be packeted down an old NTSC channel.

Jason



06-17-2009 06:54 PM

Al Skierkiewicz


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

While I write this, a Heathkit HW101 and matching speaker with HP13B power supply sits on my right and a SB634 Station Console sits on the left with an HW-8 and some test gear is looking down from the shelf behind me.



06-17-2009 08:21 PM

DonRotolo


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebarker View Post
back in the day when we had to 'peak the grids' and 'dip the plates'
Grid? Plates?
Oh, you must mean Hollow State components...



06-18-2009 01:23 AM

Raym


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

So what is going to hapen to all of the analog transmitters?



06-18-2009 06:39 AM

Al Skierkiewicz


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

NTSC analog transmission is still the standard in many other countries so some are being sold to brokers for those markets. Since the FCC had originally proposed that the move to digital was to take place in 1996, many stations had been limping along on their old transmitters waiting for the move so those are being scrapped. Low power UHF channels (local special interest stations) are not required to move/vacate for another four years. Some linear/ultra linear transmitter amplifiers (like ours) are able to transmit digital with relatively few modifications. Some digital stations are returning to their analog frequency now that the move is complete using those transmitters. Current technology allows transmitters to have a low power "exciter" that generates the analog or digital signal which feeds a high powered amplifier. In our analog transmitter, a 10 watt exciter fed into a series of 100 watt intermediate power amps (IPAs) that in turn fed into a series of 2kW amplifier modules. The modules are then summed together into an 18kW output. This transmitter is even capable of summing two amplifiers together for a total of 36 kW. Since digital transmission requires an ultra linear transmitter, automatic distortion/precorrection circuitry takes a sample of the output signal, filters out the distortion and then adds that distortion signal of the opposite phase at the exciter to null out the non linearity. I know, you are saying "It's digital! Why a linear amplifier?". Digital transmission is still an analog signal, modulated and filtered, with an encoded serial digital signal.



06-18-2009 07:02 AM

Richard Wallace


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Skierkiewicz View Post
/.... I know, you are saying "It's digital! Why a linear amplifier?". Digital transmission is still an analog signal, modulated and filtered, with an encoded serial digital signal.
Thanks for reminding us of this simple, important fact, Al. Analog has not really been killed or scrapped. The systems we nickname 'digital' only look like streams of ones and zeroes when viewed at signal processing time scales. At smaller time scales, which are always of interest when we consider the economics of distributing those signals, they are really analog.

Of course, when a lossless, zero-delay, zero-cost power switching device is invented, linear (analog) power circuits will be obsolete. We are not there yet.



06-18-2009 04:32 PM

Cynette


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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorviewsVeteran View Post
...before my mom got a color tv, she didn't understand the big deal with the Wizard of Oz...
What!?! the Wizard of Oz is in color!?!

Great photo, Al!



06-18-2009 08:06 PM

DonRotolo


Unread Re: pic: Al Kills Analog

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Skierkiewicz View Post
Digital transmission is still an analog signal, modulated and filtered, with an encoded serial digital signal.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard View Post
Thanks for reminding us of this simple, important fact, Al.
What? You mean the world is really....analog? <gasp>

Oh Nooooo


.



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